Deadline

I’m back.

I’ve been back at it big time since January, but haven’t gotten around to blogging at all.  I’m almost to “onederland” – currently 203lbs. I’ve lost 7″ from my waist, 3″ from my thighs(!)… I’m working out 5x/week and counting my calories.

For years, I’ve toyed with getting in shape and losing the weight. For years, I’ve failed again and again.  I’m not stopping this time. I have a deadline for reaching 185lbs and I plan to meet it head on.

In Dec 2014 I was diagnosed with Lynch Syndrome. After being diagnosed with sigmoid (colon) cancer in 2013 at the age of 32, my gastroenterologist tested me for gene mutations and I have a mutation of the MSH6 gene (one of the Lynch Syndrome genes) and that brings with it a 70%+ likelihood of both colon and uterine cancers.

I met with an oncologist in January and she told me that the 2 things everyone in the medical community agrees on when it comes to Lynch are yearly colonoscopies (check!) and a full hysterectomy. That hit hard. I am currently a single mom (separated from what is now my 2nd marriage) and have no sign that another child is anywhere in my future. While I was okay with that, the thought of losing my bits and going through early menopause didn’t sit well with me at all. I had to mull it over.

A friend sat me down and said, “You have to do this. You have to do whatever you can to be here for as long as you can for that little guy.” (referring to my son, who is 8) I knew he was right.

At that point, I decided two things. First, I had to lose some weight. I was 245+lbs when I had colon resection surgery in 2013 and recovery was a miserable experience – my belly would swing and my incision wouldn’t heal properly. I had to wear a binder for weeks to keep my belly from moving. The colon surgeon had told me that my abdomen was full of scar tissue (I’d had 2 abdominal surgeries prior to that one – c-section and a follow up surgery to remove infected tissue after my c-section).  I knew my hysterectomy wouldn’t be done laproscopically because I was told they couldn’t have done my resection surgery that way.

Second, I wanted to turn this into a positive experience for me. I asked my OB/Gyn if I might be able to get a tummy tuck while she’s in there. I couldn’t bear the thought of opening up my scar AGAIN only to leave it – once again – worse than it was before. My midsection is already so embarrassing. Clothes don’t fit right – my overhang belly sticks out through the leg holes of my underwear, for crying out loud. She said yes and recommended me to a plastic surgeon.

I went to visit him for a consult and he spent a full hour with me – at no cost – discussing how the surgery would be performed, what I could expect…and showed me several before/after examples of his work on women who were shaped very much like me. It was life-altering. I left there with a piece of paper telling me how much it would cost – $7000 – and a lump in my throat because I knew that’s what I wanted…what I (almost) needed. I didn’t know how I would afford it, but I knew I had to find a way.

I also knew I had to lose a substantial amount of weight.  He told me that with my shape, I would likely have good results regardless – the bulk of my weight is in my midsection and a lot of it in the lower belly that overhangs. Of course he said that the more weight I lost before surgery, the better my results would be.

Surgery is scheduled for July 27th. I’m down 25lbs so far and hoping to lose another 15 in the next 2 months. Even another 10 would make me happy.

I’ve scheduled my next physical for June 6th. I can’t wait to see the look on my GP’s face when I weigh in lighter than he’s ever seen me. I haven’t been this light in over 10 years. I also haven’t been this fit in probably 15 years. Now hopefully my bloodwork also looks better than it ever has.

More to come…

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The Food Asshole’s Dilemma

Freaking funny

floreakeats

I’ve been thinking lately about writing a book. 

I admire this fella Michael Pollan and notice that he’s been very successful with his books, many of which seem to include rules, lists and whatnot.

So here’s my idea . . .

I study about food and realize that other people are also interested in food, but not all of them have yet learned to be completely obnoxious about it.  I will write a book that teaches people to wield a little food knowledge and a lot of self-righteousness at every meal to become truly insufferable food assholes.

The Food Asshole’s Dilemma.
Here are the rules that every “foodie” must learn.

  1. Eat food, mostly overpriced and hyper local.
  2. Except for food that is very obscure, even more overpriced and imported from very far away indeed.
  3. Eat what your grandmother ate, but only the things that take so long to prepare that…

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Courage & Starting Over

 

courage

A lot has happened in the past 9 months.

I slacked off.  I let the holidays get the better of me (though I did cook a pretty healthy Thanksgiving dinner).  I hit the gym maybe 5 times. I gained some weight. My hip developed a pinched nerve. My ankles were swelling more and more.

In March, I started having issues swallowing.  I’d been having issues for a while, honestly, but they progressed in March to the point where I finally decided to DO something about it.  I went to see my gastro – I’d had digestive issues years ago – and he reminded me I was also late for my follow-up colonoscopy.

And then, while trying to sort out my swallowing issues, I was diagnosed with colon cancer.

Shortly after, I was told my swallowing issues were called achalasia.

So… surgery on the colon (pathology report came back sparkly!) and then a procedure on my throat for the achalasia.  I took 6 weeks off from work for surgery and recovery.

9 weeks post op, I’m feeling great.  Not only that, I feel like myself again. I was close to it a week or so ago, but something was missing.  I found my missing piece again – exercise.

I’m taking it easy and building back up, but it just feels so good to be moving again.  I haven’t been back to the gym, but I’ve been squeezing in some movement in the mornings before work.  The kids are out of school, so I have a lot more time in the AM than I used to.  I blew the dust off an old pilates video one morning, indulged in some Wii Just Dance with my boys on other mornings.  I pulled on my sneakers and went for a walk this past Sunday.  I’ve been walking at lunch with a co-worker, as well.

Nothing hard. Nothing overwhelming. Baby steps. I’ll get back there.

I stopped fearing the scale.  I started keeping a food journal (via www.myfitnesspal.com ) again.

I’ve stopped kidding myself. Stopped lying to myself. “I’ll start tomorrow,” I’d say.  “I haven’t gained that much weight,” I’d think.

I was almost afraid to even tell myself that I was really doing this.  I went for that walk on Sunday and felt defeated afterwards – I was so tired, I took a two hour nap that afternoon!! My body just doesn’t respond to activity the way it did pre-op just yet.  And I don’t expect it to, which is why I’m trying to take things slowly.  20 minutes here, 30 minutes there.  It all adds up.

 

I saw the phrase above on a sign earlier this week and the words hit home.

Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it’s the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”

My mom recently told me that she’s always been afraid to lose weight because of the fear that she’d just gain it back. I think I’ve had similar fears lurking in the back of my mind.  Why bother? I’ve never succeeded before. And if I do succeed, I’ll just gain it all back again!   

STOP!  (Easier said than done, I know – negative self-talk is very difficult to rein in once it starts.)

My response to my mom that day was that someone who’s spent even a week, a month, a year healthier than they were before is likely a lot better off than the person who’s never tried at all.

Did you know that a 30 minute workout is only 2% of your day?  Shoot, even if you deduct 8 hours of sleep (who gets that??), it’s only 3% of your day!  I read that somewhere recently (and then double-checked the math) and when you think of it that way…it’s really difficult to say that you “don’t have time”.  (I’ve been saying it for months and I’ve been lying to myself!!!!)

 

So here’s to new beginnings.  Here’s to starting over again (and again and again).

Here’s to having the courage to try again tomorrow if today wasn’t your best day.

I can’t promise I’ll be able to post often, but I will try to post more.  I’ve missed you guys and the encouragement we give each other.

Recipe: Leek Yogurt Dip!

This past Saturday, I was out and about with my mom.  It had been a while since we’d gotten time for just the two of us to hang out.  We started by walking a 5k for charity (okay, we walked *most* of it!) and then we went to see a movie (Odd Life of Timothy Green – I was unimpressed).

This meant Rick was in charge of going to get our basket. (We almost wound up basketless! But he made it at the last minute!)  Seems there is always something new and different in the basket – something I’ve never tried before or haven’t had in years.  This week, it was leeks!

I usually do my grocery shopping on Friday – I hit Sprouts on my way home from work – so I never quite know what produce we’ll have and just wind up winging it. I also had a potluck to attend on Sunday night.  Wasn’t sure what I’d whip up for that.

I wound up making a leek yogurt dip and serving it with Nut Thins. (I’ve discovered I definitely have gluten issues, so if I’m going to “cheat” and have crackers, Nut Thins are where it’s at!)

Sara’s Leek Yogurt Dip w/ Bacon

Ingredients:

  • 2tsp bacon fat
  • 1 large leek, chopped
  • 1 piece of bacon, cooked & chopped
  • 2c plain greek yogurt
  • 1tsp garlic powder
  • pepper, to taste

Directions:

Heat bacon fat in large skillet until melted.  Add chopped leeks and saute, stirring often, for about 4 minutes (leeks should start to become soft and translucent).  Add bacon to the skillet and toss.

Place leeks and bacon in food processor and pulse a few times to chop everything up even finer. (You can chop smaller before cooking or even skip this step, but I felt my leek bits were just a little too big.)

In a medium-sized bowl, combine leek/bacon mixture, yogurt and garlic powder. Add pepper to taste (optional). 

Let rest in the fridge 2-3 hours (or longer!). 

Enjoy!

Featured here in a super-fancy container because I was taking it to a party!

Fun with Produce

Since we’ve been participating in Bountiful Baskets fairly regularly, my family has come to try a bunch of new and different produce items that we’d never tried before.  I love picking up the basket each week (or, better yet, volunteering and seeing the produce come off the truck) and seeing what’s new and wonderful this time.

Here are a few of our favorites so far:

Pluots: My younger two LOVE these. So juicy and sweet.  The sticker on them called them “Dino Eggs” and I wasn’t quite sure what they were until I checked the website!  Dino Eggs, indeed!  Looks like an apricot, tastes kinda like a plum.  100% yummy!

Asian Pears: Often labeled as “apple pears,” these little guys are actually not hybrids, they’re just a pear variation.  Best eaten when still crunchy!  Crunchy, but not as sweet as an apple or a pear (in my opinion).  To me, these almost taste like a cross between an apple and jicama. 

Red Corn: This was QUITE a surprise!  Red corn?  I never even knew such a thing existed! Higher in antioxidants than it’s yellow and white cousins, red corn is primarily found in west Texas. It has a wonderful sweet/nutty taste.  The color messed with my mind a bit, though!  (My corn is BLEEDING!! ACK! Oh, wait… no it’s not. *continues to mow through it, savagely*)

Champagne Grapes: I had to use this picture because I loved the comparison to a “normal” grape!  You just can’t appreciate how amazingly tiny these things are without something to compare them to.  These turned up in our basket last week (2lbs of them!) and the kids just went crazy for them.  How could they not? They’re teeny, tiny little grapes!  Super sweet and they keep tiny hands busy for quite a while, which is always a plus in my book.  I’ve been told they’re great in chicken salad. I might just have to test that theory this week.

Brussel Sprouts: Okay, these might not be “unique” to a lot of people, but these bad boys were HUGE!  And we got them two weeks in a row, which I’m really happy about.  Last week, I actually used them to make a wonderful little recipe that even my pickiest eater loved.  Yum!

 

I’ll try to share more of our produce adventures as they come up.  Until then, why not pick up something new and different the next time you’re at the store?  You never know what might tickle your taste buds!

Recipe: Homemade Granola

Eating better and being more active isn’t something I’m trying to do just for myself – I get the whole family involved as much as possible.  One of my biggest struggles with my boys has been breakfast.  They always want cereal or waffles.  Occasionally I can get them to eat a yogurt or some toast. 

The result is that they’re all hungry again by about 10am – sometimes earlier!  With the new school year about to start, my goal is to get them to eat more protein for breakfast – something that will stick to their ribs!  Only one of our boys will eat eggs, and he only wants them once in a blue moon.  What to do?

I recently found out that they all love granola – I had no idea!  But rather than buy some from the store, I thought we’d make some on our own.  That way, I can control what’s going into it.  To get the boys more excited about it, I asked them to help me make it.  You can mix up different nuts, add other spices, etc.  This is how we made it.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup blanched, sliced almonds (found these at Kroger in the bulk section)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (baking aisle)
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts (baking aisle)
  • 1/2 cup coconut
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Directions:

Preheat oven to 250 F.

Mix all dry ingredients into one bowl. (I let my boys help me measure and dump the ingredients into a huge bowl.)  Stir until combined (another great kid job!).   Mix all wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Whisk until combined. (I measured the wet stuff to prevent messes and let one of my other boys do the whisking.)

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry. Stir until all dry ingredients are coated.

Raw granola on parchment lined cookie sheet – ready for the oven

Line a cookie sheet with parchment and spread granola mixture out as evenly as possible.

Bake for 1hr 15 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes to prevent burning.

Let cool and store in an airtight container.  So far, they love it with yogurt or mixed into some Honey Nut Cheerios and served with milk. Yum yum!

Finished product – sweet, crunchy and golden brown!

Recipe: Stuffed Pork Chops

When I get the urge to make something new, here’s what I do:

I read through three or four recipes that are similar to what I want to make and steal a little bit from each of them – technique from one, an ingredient from another, etc.  I then tweak it to make it my own.

Last week, I made some Paleo-friendly stuffed pork chops and they were SO yummy, I wanted to share.  Unfortunately, I was not confident they’d be awesome from the get-go, so I didn’t take pictures as I went.  All I have is one pic of my leftovers!

 

Ingredients:

3-4 thick cut, boneless pork chops

2 tbsp coconut oil

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1 small apple, diced (I used Fuji)

3 dates, diced

3-4 baby bella mushrooms, diced

1/8 cup sliced almonds

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp allspice

sea salt/pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350.

Saute the onion in the coconut oil over medium heat until the onion begins to soften.  Add the apple, dates, mushrooms, almonds, cinnamon and allspice to the onions and oil. Mix to coat everything in the oil and saute for a minute or two.  Remove the mix from the pan and place in a bowl.

 Using a sharp knife, create a pocket in the side of each pork chop, fanning the knife out to make the pocket as big as possible (without cutting through to the other side!).  Stuff each chop with as much of the fruit/veggie/almond mix as it will hold. (Note: If you keep the opening just approx 2″ wide, the chop will almost seal itself. Secure opening with a soaked toothpick, if needed.) Season the outside of the chops with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

 Place the chops in the pan and brown on both sides (roughly 2 minutes per side).

 If your pan is oven-proof and has a lid, simply place the lid on the pan and pop it in the oven.  If not, you can place them in a baking dish and cover with foil.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes (the more stuffing you were able to jam in there, the faster they’ll cook!). 

I paired my chops with sliced zucchini and squash that I cooked in some homemade chicken broth. 

 Enjoy!